|February 21, 2013
Dixon Agency community taking steps to a better future for the children
By B.L. Azure
Public Information Officer
Keith Barrett X said the older folks and parents should live a positive life that their children will mimic. (B.L. Azure photo)
DIXON AGENCY — The first step is often the hardest but most important step of any journey. Members of the Dixon Agency ad hoc community council took that step a couple of months ago when some of them contacted Pearl Yellowman Caye, Tribal Health and Human Services Youth Health and Wellness Program manager. The group wanted to do some positive things for the young children of the Agency and asked Yellowman Caye if she could assist them in the journey to the future of the Agency youngsters.
Yellowman Caye has been hosting community meetings at the Agency as well as the Dixon school system. There is a Dixon Parent Community Coalition meeting with dinner served today, Thursday, Feb. 21, from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Dixon school.
Joining in the effort with THHS is an unaffiliated chapter of the Big Brothers and Big Sisters on the Flathead Indian Reservation. Julia Williams told the folks gathered at last week’s meeting in the Agency Blue Building that her group has worked with similar minded groups to provide positive outlets for youth.
“Each little community is different. You guys started this effort on your own,” Williams said. “Dixon is a community we want to work with. We can offer you a bit of help doing this.”
Now two community meetings later the Agency families are honing their list of things that need to be addressed at the former Bureau of Indian Affairs headquarters complex. Since the BIA headquarters moved to Pablo in the early 1970s the Agency has been essentially a housing complex that has seen better days. The ad hoc Agency community member council wants the better days to come back. They are concerned about the safety of their children — their physical and emotional safety is paramount to them. They maintain there are many safety hazards sprinkled throughout the Agency.
On top of the to-do list are several abandoned houses and outbuildings that pose potential dangers for anyone who ventures through the open or broken doors or un-shuttered windows. There is concern that the buildings could become fodder for fire as some have in the past. The buildings could also serve as a gathering place for youngsters with good or not so good intentions.
Also there are several rusted galvanized pipes that have broken off above the surface of the ground. Some of them are anchored in cement in the park/playground and at one time were the anchor base for playground equipment like the springy rocking horses. In some of the yards of demolished and/or abandoned buildings are the rusted remnants of clothesline “T” structures broken off and rusted just above the ground surface. There is also serious concern about the condition of the Agency streetlights and roads.
Dixon Agency youngsters chow down at last week’s community meeting in the Agency Blue Building. (B.L. Azure photo)
Now that spring is in the air the Agency community members are in the early planning stages for a spring cleanup of the area that could also include a barbecue. The cleanup effort would also include a refurbishing of the interior, exterior and grounds of the Agency Blue Building, the ad hoc community center.
The group has decided to meet every third Friday to conduct its business, set goals and plan activities. That consistency would allow the residents and their children to schedule to be at the meetings.
The community gatherings would include a meal prepared by folks at the Agency. Yellowman Caye said the THHS Youth Health and Wellness Program could assist with the food but said she wants the community members to start taking ownership of the meetings including meals
The gatherings would also incorporate a birthday party with all the usual goodies as well as games for those with birthdays in the month of the scheduled meetings.
“We have the resources to purchase some food products but we want the people of the Agency to take ownership of the meetings that includes preparing the meals,” Yellowman Caye said, adding that some of the older children could assist in the preparation. At the next meeting a schedule will be set up designating which person or family would be in charge of preparing the meal and birthday party activities.
“We have the resources to purchase some food products but we want the people of the Agency to take ownership of the meetings that includes preparing the meals,” Yellowman Caye said, adding that some of the older children could assist in the preparation. At the next meeting a schedule will be set up designating which person or family would be in charge of preparing the meal and birthday party activities. “I see a big extended family here at the Agency. There will be those who miss meetings but if we keep coming this will keep going.”
The bottom line is that everything is for the young children and establishing a positive environment.
“We want to provide activities that are physically, emotionally and mentally fulfilling,” Williams said. “We will meet with the kids and take on a project they suggest. They will take ownership and take pride in their community.”
For the youngsters that would include age-specific activities as well as some targeted for all ages where the older kids would serve as role models. The latter would include some of the older children reading to the little ones or helping them with homework.
On the table is Indian arts and crafts, homework nights with tutors, and, among other things, monthly birthday parties.
“We can work on something with the (Dixon) school to see if they could provide a teacher or paraprofessional,” Pearl said. The THHS Youth Health and Wellness Program has been working with the school in similar vein as it is working with the Dixon Agency.
“There are people in this community who want to make a difference for our kids, they are number one,” said Agency resident Katy Coffey. “There are also some people in this community who don’t think this will be successful.”
“We need to lead by example, practice what we preach,” said Keith Barrett X. “We need to show our kids something different, positive. We must reach to our better spirits and come together on this for our children. I want to be here when people say, ‘Hey, they are doing some good things in Dixon.’”